Government Funding Sources
Pedestrian projects and programs can be funded by federal, state, local, private, or any combination of sources. A summary of federal pedestrian funding opportunities can be viewed at
http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/bicycle_pedestrian/guidance/bp-guid.cfm#bp4. There are several funding programs that local governments may pursue:
Federal Transportation Sources
See a comprehensive list at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/federalaid/projects.cfm.
Other Funding Sources
There is a wide range of other federal funds that can be used for bicycling and walking facilities. The most common include:
- Funds through federal land agencies such as the National Forest Service, National Park Service or Bureau of Land Management. These funds are primarily for trails and must be on federal lands.
- Community Development Block Grants through HUD — the Department of Housing and Urban Development provides funds for community-based projects. Examples of the types of projects they fund are:
- Commercial district streetscape improvements
- Sidewalk improvements
- Safe routes to school
- Neighborhood-based bicycling and walking facilities that improve local transportation options or help revitalize neighborhoods
The National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse has prepared a useful Technical Brief: Financing and Funding for Trails that cites over thirty federal and national funding sources that could be used to help fund bicycling and walking facilities and/or programs, especially trails.
Every state raises revenue for highway and transportation infrastructure through a state motor-vehicle fuel tax. Some states also raise funds through vehicle licensing fees. In many states, the laws governing how these funds can be spent would make most pedestrian projects and programs eligible for these funds. However in other states, use of the funds may be limited to providing paved highway shoulders on state owned and operated roads. The following are some examples of dedicated funding for pedestrian and bicycle projects from state transportation revenues:
- Oregon dedicates 1 percent of state gas-tax revenue to providing improvements for bicycling and walking on state-managed highways. Michigan also has a 1 percent law.
- Illinois has a long-standing, annual dedication of $1.50 out of the car title transfer tax, for trail and bicycle pedestrian improvements in local communities; raising up to $5 million annually.
- California dedicates $1 million from the State Highway Account (gas tax-based), for bicycle transportation improvements, and the amount is scheduled to grow to $2 million in 2001 and 2002, to $3 million in 2003 and to $5 million in 2004. Maximum grants are $250,000.
- California's Transportation Development Act dedicates 0.25 percent from the statewide 7.75 percent sales tax to public transit support. The funds are returned to the county of origin where the regional transportation planning agency may set-aside 2 percent of the funds for pedestrian and bicycle projects. In San Diego County, where this set-aside has been established, funding levels amount to about $1.7 million per year.
- A Gubernatorial directive created New Jersey's pedestrian and bicycle facility set-aside in its local-aid program. Municipalities and counties can apply for these funds for local projects. The money comes from the NJ Transportation Trust Fund, which is mostly state gas taxes and highway toll revenue. Spending of funds has lagged, although local requests exceed actual awards for projects. Advocates are currently promoting a provision in the Trust Fund reauthorization bill that would require the NJ Department of Transportation to implement 200 miles of bikeways per year during the 4-year life of the new Trust Fund.
- California allocates 1/3 of the federal Hazard Elimination monies (a portion of the 10 percent Safety Set-Aside of Surface Transportation Program funds) to projects that encourage kids to walk and bicycle to school. This amounts to about $20 million annually for the next two years.
- New York State DOT is in the process of creating a grant program for traffic calming projects on Long Island. Towns and villages will apply for the money with specific traffic calming project proposals. The first year of the program will use $3 million of the federal Hazard Elimination funds.
- Indiana drivers pay extra for special license plates that benefit greenways, open space, parks and trails. In 1995 about $1.9 million was netted from sale of 75,740 plates. The plates cost an additional $35, of which $25 goes to the Indiana Heritage Trust. Maine and Florida use similar license plate fee add-ons for conservation, parks and pedestrian and bicycle program funding.
A growing number of states are providing funds from non-transportation related revenue streams. However, these funds are not always eligible for the full range of pedestrian and bicycle activities. Some examples include the following:
- Colorado dedicates a portion of its lottery proceeds to trail building.
- Maryland uses a real estate transfer tax (tax on the sale of residential and commercial property) to raise money for open space acquisition and trail building.
- The Pennsylvania and Florida state legislatures were among the first to create state funding programs for trail building and open space preservation. Much of the funding is available for local community-sponsored projects. Funds are also used for projects of statewide interest.
- The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management (DEM) runs a Greenways and Trails Small Grants Program to award small amounts of funding to local communities with innovative greenway and trail protection projects.
There are many examples of local communities creating revenue streams to improve conditions for bicycling and walking. Three common approaches include: special bond issues, dedications of a portion of local sales taxes or a voter-approved sales tax increase, and use of the annual capital improvement budgets of Public Works and/or Parks agencies.
Some examples follow:
- The City of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Bernalillo County, have a 5 percent set-aside of street bond funds which go to trails and bikeways. For the City, this has amounted to approximately $1.2 million every two years. City voters last year passed a 1/4 cent gross receipts tax for transportation which includes approximately $1 million per year for the next ten years for trail development. Many on-street facilities are developed as a part of other road projects.
- Pinellas County, Florida built much of the Pinellas Trail system with a portion of a one cent sales tax increase voted for by county residents.
- Seattle, Washington approved a nine year levy (property tax) in the fall of 2006 that provides five million dollars a year for pedestrian and bicycle projects.
- Denver, Colorado invested $5 million in its emerging trail network with a bond issue, which also funded the city's bike planner for a number of years.
- Eagle County, Colorado (which includes Vail) voters passed a transportation tax that earmarks 10 percent for trails, about $300,000 a year.
- In Colorado Springs, Colorado, 20 percent of the new open space sales tax is designated for trail acquisition and development; about $5–6 million per year.